Some opponents of non-discrimination ordinances purposefully misconstrue what these ordinances are intended for. They claim that NDOs will force churches to accept LGBT people into their congregation and perform same-sex weddings. The First Amendment of the United States includes protections for freedom of religion that cannot be overridden by a local, state, or even federal law. Religious organizations are in a separate category than every other entity in our society. A church can choose to exclude individuals on the basis of race, sex, or disability, and not break federal discrimination laws. For example, the Catholic Church refuses to ordain women ministers. This is their right as a religious organization. However, if a private business refuses to hire women, this is sex discrimination. Non-discrimination ordinances do not, and could not, compel churches to accept or marry same-sex couples. The First Amendment and its freedom of religion clause is among the most important of our constitution; nothing can override it. A government can never interfere with a church or how it chooses to operate.

Another argument that sometimes occurs under the guise of “religious freedom” is that businesses should be able to choose who not to serve if that customer lives a life contrary to their religious beliefs. We are a multicultural, multi-religious country, and that is what makes America unique and great. A business that operates in the public sphere should commit to serving the public. Would you want to visit a grocery store that said “Jews not welcome” on the door because the owner thought “religious freedom” meant the right to serve some individuals, but not others? A business that exists in the public domain should not be able to pick and choose its customers.